I think on paper this is the weakest of the Novices’ Chases this week. The Arkle and RSA were a lot stronger.
Faugheen runs – which is great for Cheltenham – and it’s great for the horse, who is in wonderful order and has had a really smooth prep. I’m sure Paul Townsend is looking forward to riding him.
Willie Mullins also has Melon running here. I think he could out-run his odds, as he looks to be going off at a big price. But for me it’s all about Faugheen, and I hope he can take the roof of this place on Thursday.
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I fancy both The Storyteller AND Relegate here. Both were eye-catching in their qualifiers – one in Leopardstown, one in Punchestown. The Storyteller is a much better chaser, but is off a competitive mark here.
Relegate has won a Cheltenham Bumper before. They’ll probably both end up quite short in the market, but they are the two who have caught the eye.
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A Plus Tard is top of the market, and I think that’s probably right.
Min is a very good horse. He was brilliant at Aintree over two-and-a-half last year, he’s won two John Durkan over the same distance at Punchestown.
Those are two very level tracks, but Cheltenham is a very different ball game and I worry about his finishing effort in years gone by on this track. So I’m in the A Plus Tard camp, even if my heart is wishing Min.
Paisley Park will go off favourite and I think he’ll get the job done.
Last year’s renewal was perhaps an even stronger race with Sam Spinner and Faugheen chasing him home in second and third. I think he’s superior to all his rivals in this race.
Paisley Park is a wonderful horse and I think he’ll win, but if you’re looking for an edge in the without market or each/way I think Bacardys has a sniff.
I think he’s been freshened up since Christmas, he seems to be in great form at home, and I think he’s a good outside shout.
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Le Bague Au Roi was a Grade 1 novice last year and beat Santini and Topofthegame at Kempton on Boxing Day in 2018. She then came over to Leopardstown and followed it up with a Grade 1 win there.
She’s back into Handicap company having come down the ratings, but I still think she is a Grade 1 performer.
Willie Mullins has three runners in this one: Robin Des Foret, Blazer and LiveLoveLaugh, but his record in Handicap Chases at the Cheltenham Festival is about zero!
Willie Mullins has a fair few runners in this, and the one I like is Colreevy. She was second to Minella Melody at Fairyhouse in the Solerina last time out. There’s a weight difference in this race though, and I think that five-pound swing will help Culreevy and the stiffer track really will do too. She’s the one for me.
I like Champagne Platinum. Derek O’Connor is riding him for Nicky Henderson and the horse definitely caught my eye on his last start.
Looking at the rider bookings, Patrick Mullins is riding Fitzhenry instead of his father’s trained Cabaret Queen… and that could be a little tip in itself.